How To Start & Operate Your Own Profitable
  Import/Export Business At Home

  What is a good way to build up a successful business from nothing
  and have fun doing it? The import/export business may be your
  answer. Not only does  it require little financial investment to
  start, but it offers the prestige of working with clients from
  all over the world.

  You don't need previous experience in the field, but you should
  have a good head for organizing. Fulfilling a successful
  import/export business requires constant attention to little
  details.

  Do you know some local manufacturers looking for ways to increase
  their market for the goods they make? Or are you planning a trip
  abroad and want to make some contacts for setting up a business?
  If you have the ability to sell, and an air of diplomacy, the
  import/export business might be right for you. All you need is
  the desire and determination to make it work.

  As you progress in the business, many factors become obvious and
  easy to handle. For example, you'll need to find a person to
  handle shipments, called a freight forwarder. And you'll need to
  create solid contacts and strong relationships with reliable
  suppliers. But after a short time, you can be well on your way to
  making a sizeable income, with a very low overhead.

  Do you like the idea of running your own business? How would you
  like a tax deductible trip to foreign places a couple times a
  year? The advantage of an import/export business are great.
  The biggest advantage is the money you'll make.. Once you get the
  business underway,, the commission for setting up sales is very
  profitable. And after you establish and maintain a number of
  exclusive accounts, you'll find the time you spend is highly
  rewarded with money.

  Take a look into the import/export business. Consider the risks,
  and consider the advantages. Talk to people in the business. Is
  it for you?

  HOW IT WORKS

  Of all the manufacturers in the United States, only a small
  percentage distribute goods outside of North America. The goods
  that do find foreign markets are exports. On the other hand,
  anything that is manufactured outside the country and brought in
  for sale is imported.

  Although it seems obvious that all manufacturers would want a
  worldwide market, it is not easy for a company that is limited in
  its scope and abilities. That's where you come in.

  An import/export agent is a matchmaker. Manufacturers of domestic
  goods seek foreign distribution; foreign manufacturers want a
  United States market. You need to find them, make a solid
  connection, and establish a business relationship with these
  companies.

  The agent's commission is generally about ten percent. Now, think
  of ten percent of $500,000 or ten percent of a million. Although
  that may seem like a large order, it wouldn't be, if you're
  talking about machinery, raw materials, or computers.

  The market is unlimited and there are hundreds of manufacturers
  looking for foreign distribution. Sporting goods, clocks,
  electronic games, radios, housewares, garments, tools-anything
  can be readily imported or exported if there is a consumer demand
  and if you can get the products.

  The United States Government encourages exports. Indeed, it is
  those sales that keep our balance of payments with the vast
  amounts of goods are imported.. And you'll find government
  agencies helpful in establishing your business.

  THE BASICS

  You can start your import/export business at home with a
  telephone.. You'll need a file system, business cards, and a
  machine to answer the phone calls. Once you get going, you'll
  want a cable address or a telex hook-up.

  And you'll need a classy letterhead. Until you establish personal
  contacts, it is your letterhead that represents you. Make it look
  professional, possibly embossed or two-color, or gold leafed.
  Have it printed on light-weight paper for airmail correspondence,
  but don't have airmail envelopes printed. You'll have a lot of
  domestic correspondence too.

  More than office equipment, you need the determination to make
  it work. It will be slow at first, and you'll need to plan your
  moves, make contacts and SELL YOURSELF. But once you make a few
  sales and sign several exclusive contracts worth money, you'll
  know your dedication was worthwhile.

  MAKING CONTACTS

  The most important step in setting up your business is finding
  the contacts. You may have relatives in a foreign country;; you
  may have frequently visited and established business
  relationships in a country. Or, you might just have a feeling for
  what will sell where. A person who keeps well-informed in the
  business world can pick up and ride the crest of worldwide
  trends.

  Foreign consulates located in the United States have commercial
  attaches who want to establish outlets in the U.S., and they're a
  good place to start.. Sometimes these consulates can help find
  indices of their own import/export enterprises.
  The Unites States embassies abroad are another place to find
  contacts for commercial distribution. They can help you find out
  about a company's solvency and reputation.

  Another way to establish contacts is through the Chambers of
  Commerce of every city you are aiming for.

  Start small-don't tackle the world.. Where do you want to sell
  American goods you might have in mind? Which countries have the
  merchandise you want to import? Find out about the countries,
  what they have to offer, what is generally in demand.

  Then prepare a  massive mail campaign
  The easiest way to mail hundreds of letters is to use a typing
  service that has the equipment to produce the same letter with a
  different address each time.. It's worth the money it will cost;
  you'd go crazy typing so many identical letters.
  To every possible contact, write a letter introducing your
  company, requesting the names and address of appropriate firms to
  contact. Ask to have the notice published in the monthly bulletin
  or posted in an appropriate place.
  From the names to get back, write another letter, again
  introducing yourself, and asking information about their company.

  You can use a questionaire, which is easy to fill out and invites
  a response.
  What goods do they want to import? What products are now imported
  and how are they distributed?? Does the company have a certain
  territory, does it have sales representatives, branches in other
  cities? What are the basic details of operation--history, assets
  and liabilities, plans for growth?
  Request any information you need, to find out what they will buy
  and what they have to sell. If the company is a manufacturer, ask
  for samples or a catalog, the facts and figures of current
  foreign distribution, and the product demand in their own
  country.

  ANALYZE THE MARKET

  Keep informed. Read everything you can find about world trade.
  Look at trade publications, international newspapers, news
  magazines, and financial reports. Who is selling what to whom?
  Although the market for American-made airplanes is sewn up, there
  are thousands of medium to small sized manufacturers in every
  state of the union.
  You can get goods to sell, buy you have to be sure to study where
  they are in demand and can get the price to make exportation
  viable. Your questionaires will tell you what foreign importers
  want. Take it a step further and read the journals published by
  that country; many of them are available in English. Do these
  publication confirm the desire for certain products?
  The American market for imported products fluctuates with the
  value of the dollar in comparison to the value of each other
  country's currency. And, importation prices reflect that
  directly. Can American consumers afford to pay the price of
  certain imported goods? Or will they?
  Finding the right market is as important as the actual
  particulars of making deals and selling goods.. What do you think
  will sell? If you do some careful studies and think about the
  trends, you'll be able to come up with hundreds of products to
  import and export.
  The import/export business is actually smaller than you might
  think.. There are only a few of these businesses; that's why
  there's plenty of room for more.

  WHERE TO FIND HELP

  Establish a good business relationship with a local bank that
  handles international business.. Your personal banker will follow
  through on the actual foreign transactions, and will help you
  keep your credit afloat, In fact, this is one of the best factors
  about an import/export business. Aside from office suppliers and
  correspondence, or possible business trips, you need a no
  personal cash outlay. All you need is a good credit and good
  reputation.
  Your banker is your credit manager and will give you valuable
  advice and references when you deal with both American and
  foreign  manufacturers
  and distributors.
  The United States Government agencies are great places to find
  help... These agencies promote the import/export business, and
  publish many small booklets and pamphlets. They also distribute
  continually updated reports on foreign markets, commerce and
  financing.
  Read these source of information and find out the particulars of
  exports, global surveys and ocean freight guidelines. Become
  familiar with the market share reports, current laws and
  regulations, and government promotional facilities.

  MAKING CONNECTIONS

  As you continue your correspondence with foreign companies, build
  up a good rapport with their representative.. Pin down a few
  companies- perhaps in the same country or similar territory--to
  their exact needs.  What are the two  or three products most in
  demand?
  Consider their methods of distribution. You may be able to work
  directly with a wholesaler of an overseas importing company. Your
  commission will be lower, but you won't need to handle as many
  particulars , and they will take care of distribution.

  Or, you may need to supply catalogs and samples, working with a
  network of small companies or sales representatives from a larger
  conglomerate.
  The highest fees that you can collect are for raw materials taken
  from the source and delivered directly to a manufacturer. But you
  must be certain of a guaranteed quantity and the continued
  ability to deliver.
  If you are importing goods, you'll need to find U.S. distributors
  that can handle the quantity of goods at a high enough price for
  you to profit by. A single retail outlet or two is not enough to
  make your time worthwhile. Look into how buyers work and make
  contacts in the larger retail chains if you have retail
  merchandise.

  GETTING THE GOODS

  There are hundreds of American manufacturers with limited
  distribution looking for an overseas market. Exporting their
  goods is the place to start your business.
  You have many selling qualities for convincing the manufacturers
  to engage you as the sole export agent. You have foreign contacts
  and know the demand for specific goods.. You will handle the
  sale,, the paperwork, the money, all shipping, customs, and
  foreign distribution.
  The manufacturers in return provide firm price quotations, and
  you put your fees on top of that; you cost the manufacturer
  nothing.
  The manufacturer have everything to gain--an increase in sales, a
  broader market, and more profit. And you have everything to
  gain--establishing your business, and a commission on the cost of
  the goods. That is the basis of firm business connections and a
  mutually profitable arrangement.
  Contact local manufacturers first and then move into larger
  territories. You can make these contacts by phone, in person,, or
  by personal introduction from contacts you may already have.. Or,
  you can advertise in business publications and newspapers.
  Before yo do get into a legal agreement, be sure to check the
  reputation of the company. How long has it been in business?
  Where are the products distributed domestically? What is the
  solvency and reliability of the company and its goods? When you
  make your sale, you'll want to be able to deliver.

  MAKING AN AGREEMENT

  ONce you have agreed to represent the manufacturer as the export
  agent, you need to have a written and signed contract to bind
  this agreement. Your attorney should be the one to draw up this
  contract; later you can just use the same one, substituting names
  of other manufacturers.

  Basically, the contract is between the manufacturer and you as
  the export representative. You are granted exclusive rights to
  distribute goods to all countries except those they already
  distribute in. The manufacturer will pay you the specific
  commission quoted to the distribution on top of the price of
  goods. The company will also provide catalogs and samples for
  your use in distribution.
  You, the export representative, in turn will promise to do
  everything possible to make contacts and distribute
  manufacturer's goods in foreign territories..
  The terms of the contract should then be stated: how many years
  the contract will be signed for, the terms of cancellation by
  either party voluntarily or because of no sales action over a
  certain period of time.

  THE SALE

  You've made your contacts with foreign distributors who will buy
  the merchandise. You have a  signed contract with an American
  manufacturer that will deliver the goods.. Perhaps one of the
  distributors now asks for a firm quotations on the price of a
  certain amount of goods.
  You go to the manufacturer and get a price quotation on the
  quantity of goods. It should be valid for a certain stated
  period... The manufacturer may agree to deliver the goods to the
  ship,, handling the freight to that point, or you may need to
  make arrangements from the factory.
  You ass on the commission you want to the price of the goods.
  Then you add on all the extra costs of getting the merchandise
  from the factory to the warehouse of the distributor.
  If you've made an agreement with a foreign import/export company,
  their representatives may take over the shipping, paying you the
  price of the goods and your commission. That;s the easiest, but
  your commission will have to be reasonably lower.
  If your sale is to a company that will distribute the goods
  wholesale or retail from its premises, you have to arrange all
  the transportation.

  TERMS OF SHIPPING

  You will become more familiar with the terms of shipping used in
  quoting prices and delivering goods as you gain experience. Your
  responsibilities vary with the terms of the agreements and
  orders. Check with your freight forwarder to be clear about your
  responsibilities.
  A bill of lading is a receipt for goods shipped. It is signed by
  the agent of a ship or common carrier and assures the buyer that
  the goods were unloaded in the same condition as they were
  accepted. These are the documents you'll need to produce for your
  banker to release the letter of credit.
  FOB means free on board. The seller delivers the goods to a
  certain destination with no additional charges. The seller
  insures and takes the responsibility until that point. The buyer
  takes the responsibility and pays the charges after that. For
  example, FOB New York means the seller's price quotation includes
  full responsibility and shipping to New York.
  FAS  means free alongside. The seller delivers the goods to the
  ship that will carry the merchandise. The buyer pays to load onto
  the ship and takes responsibility from there. FAS New York, for
  example, means that the seller will deliver and store the goods
  until they are ready for loading onto the ship.
  C & F means cost and freight. The seller pays the freight
  charges. The buyer insures the merchandise and takes full
  responsibility after the destination.
  CIF means cost, insurance, freight. The seller is responsible for
  the value and condition of the goods, and pays both insurance and
  freight charges to a certain point.. The buyer is responsible
  from there.

  THE FREIGHT FORWARDER

  A freight forwarder is a person who takes care of the important
  steps of shipping the merchandise. This person quotes shipping
  rates, provides routing information, and books cargo space.
  Freight forwarders prepare documentation, contract shipping
  insurance, route cargo with the lowest customs charges, and
  arrange storage. They are valuable to you as an import/export
  agent, and they are important in handling the steps from factory
  to final destination.
  They can be found by looking in the yellow pages or by personal
  referrals. Find someone who can do a good job for you. You'll
  need someone you can work with, since this may become a long term
  business relationship.
  You'll need the help of a freight forwarder when you make up the
  total price quotation to the distributor.  Not only do you
  include the manufacturer's price and your commission-usually
  added together, but you need to include dock and cartage fees,
  the forwarders fees, ocean freight costs, marine insurance, duty
  charges, and any consular invoice fees, packing charges, or other
  hidden costs.

  Be especially careful when you prepare this quotation It
  certainly isn't professional to come back to the distributor with
  a higher quote including fees you forgot... You might go over the
  price quotation with your freight forwarder to be sure nothing is
  overlooked.
  Usually the quotation is itemized into three main categories of
  cost of goods, which includes your commission, freight charges
  from destination to destination, and insurance fees.
  Give a date the quotation is valid to, which should be the same
  as the date given on your quotes. You may also include
  information about the products, including any new sales
  literature.
  A formal letter that accompanies the price quotation should push
  for the sale. You can inform the distributor of the shipping date
  as soon as the order is received and confirmed by a letter of
  credit. Send the letter and price quotation by registered mail to
  be certain of its delivery.

  THE LETTER OF CREDIT

  A letter of credit eliminates financial risks for you, the
  manufacturer, and the distributor. When your distributor confirms
  the order, a letter of credit is drawn from that company's bank
  to a branch in the United States or to your bank.
  This letter of credit confirms that funds are available from the
  distributor to cover the same costs you quoted. An irrevocable
  letter of credit assures you the order will not be cancelled at
  any time... When that letter of credit is likewise confirmed by
  your bank to deliver the goods, the distributor is assured of
  delivery. Once the letter of credit is confirmed, so you don't
  have to worry about the fluctuation in currency.
  Basically, the bank holds the money until all shipping documents
  are presented. The letter of credit states the terms and
  conditions to make it legal and negotiable into money, usually
  holding for proof of shipment of the goods. Your freight
  forwarder helps you attain all those documents. When you hand
  them to the banker, the letter of credit is turned into liquid
  assets for you to pay the manufacturer and all other invoices
  from the transaction.
  Never work on promises. Not only do you take a gigantic risk, but
  you create bad risks for everyone you are involved with. A letter
  of credit is the only sure way to transfer these payments.

  DELIVERING THE GOODS

  There are many combinations of people and methods you can use to
  deliver the goods that were ordered. When you produced a price
  quotation for the goods, you had to go through all the steps the
  merchandise will follow. Now, before you proceed, check again.
  Do you have a confirmed order signed by the authorized
  representatives of the distributing company?? Has your banker
  approved the letter of credit from the company?
  Compare the amount of the letter of credit to the amount quoted
  for the goods. Be sure they match exactly. Or, if the distributor
  chose a certain quantity of several offers, check the prices
  again and confirm the quantity.
  Confirm the quotation and sale with the manufacturer, and do the
  same with the freight forwarder and any marine insurance agents
  you are working with. Then follow through.
  I order to assure the quality of merchandise, some manufacturers
  prefer to handle freight to the loading docks,, which makes it
  easier for you. If you handle overland shipping, follow through
  to be sure the merchandise is picked up and arrives safely at its
  destination.
  Be informed of the date the goods are loaded onto the ship. The
  factory should have them freighted in time to avoid costly dock
  storage charges.
  Since all conditions of the sale must be met to comply with the
  terms of the letter of credit, you need all the signed documents.

  Have your freight forwarder or other contacts get authorized
  bills of lading for the merchandise each step of the way--from
  destination to destination..
  Once you have all the signed documents, present them to your
  banker. If all the terms are met, the funds will be released.
  Since your commission is part of the quoted price of the
  merchandise, you'll usually collect your fees from the
  manufacturer.
  When it is totally complete, you collect your money--and make a
  sizeable profit for simply making connections. Consider the
  commissions when you have dozens of orders coming and going.

  IMPORTING

  Take a look at the household items and equipment you have in your
  home. Made in West Germany, made in Japan, made in Korea. You may
  have clothing from India, shoes from Brazil,,, a leather wallet
  from Italy.. Your car may be an import; your stereo equipment may
  be manufacturer elsewhere. There are hundreds and hundreds of
  items manufactured all over the world, now being used by the
  American consumer.
  The market is huge. And there are many American firms looking for
  foreign made merchandise to distribute. Some items are less
  expensive;some are better made; some are imported because they
  are made in a country now fashionable with the designers.
  What can you tap into? Maybe you have contacts in the Unites
  States, distributors looking for certain goods. And you've
  already made contacts in the foreign countries that produce these
  goods.. Follow through and get yourself an exclusive distribution
  agreement with those manufacturers.
  Importing requires the same diligence and follow up as exporting
  does. You'll need a signed contract with the manufacturer to be a
  sole agent
    distributor to North America, or even the world.
  You'll also need to obtain firm price quotes from the
  manufacturer in the quantities your distributor requests. These
  quotes should be converted into the appropriate dollar figures
  representing the currency exchange.
  Investigate the reputation of the manufacturer and the
  reliability of the goods. If you import something like electronic
  components, check into other distribution market the manufacturer
  has to assure the quality of merchandise.
  Your commission will come through from the foreign manufacturer.
  Have your bank investigate the solvency of that company and the
  reputation of living up to agreements. Since it's on foreign
  territory you'd have more trouble in any legal suits, even in
  light of many international laws.
  Prepare the price quotation. It is easiest if you request terms
  of delivery to the port of that country. Your freight forwarder
  can help you move the merchandise from port, overseas, and
  through domestic customs.
  Follow through with all the details of shipment. Be sure to
  include any insurance, dock fees, storage rates, and shipping
  overland. Overlook nothing so your price quotation to the
  American distributor is accurate,
  Itemize the quotation and give it to the American distributor..
  Upon receipt of an authorized order, double check prices and
  follow through on delivery.
  The letter of credit will go from the American distributor to the
  bank of the manufacturer. All terms and agreements regarding
  prices, freight and insurance will be defined. The manufacturer's
  representative will confirm receipt of the letter of credit,
  which will release the goods for shipment.
  Have your freight forwarder follow up on the shipment of goods.
  They may have to be freighted from the factory to the docks..
  Arrangements for shipping need to be carried out.. Customs duties
  and unloading need to be followed through from the American port.

  Then the goods may need to be freighted overland to the final
  destination...
  As soon as the goods have arrived at the proper assigned
  destination, papers have to be documented and presented to the
  bank that holds the letter of credit. Then, all carriers and
  agents need to be paid, and you collect your commission.

  PROMOTION

  After you have completed a few sales transactions to establish
  yourself, you'll need to promote your import/export business to
  get more clients. The first transactions give you the experience
  to learn the ropes of the business, and to establish contacts and
  agents both here and abroad.
  Join organizations of commerce and foreign trade associations to
  develop more contracts and extend your territory. Talk to
  everybody you contact about importing and exporting, learning
  from their mistakes and successes.
  Advertise in the print media for distributors and for goods.
  Manufacturers don't know how to make the contacts for foreign
  distributions. Show them your credentials and pick them up on
  exclusive contracts. With a little experience, you can market
  almost anything anywhere.

  EXPANDING THE BUSINESS

  THe profit of the import/export business is in the quantity of
  the goods traded. The higher the cost of the merchandise, the
  higher the profit from your percentage. Since you need to go
  through all the steps for each transaction, having more sales on
  a continual basis simply adds to profit.
  Send constant mailings to your original list of contacts and
  follow-up leads. You might develop a sales approach. As you
  develop more clients, you can convince the bigger companies of
  your reputation.
  Contact as many manufacturers and distributors as you can on both
  side of the ocean. And solidify these contacts. You may be able
  to work out an arrangement with someone to work in certain
  country for a commission. Or, you might want to take a business
  trip there to personally meet with the various companies.
  get in-depth information on the products now selling.. Why are
  certain products successful?? Maybe you can get into the same
  market with more competitive product. Investigate ways to sell
  more.. Do the products need to be better made? Do they sell
  better at a reduced price? Know what sells and where to get it.

  MAKING IT WORK

  The import/export is a high profit enterprise. Because of the low
  overhead, most of the money you make on commission is yours.. But
  building a truly profitable business requires dedication and a
  good knowledge of the business.
  You need numerous contacts who know you, respect you,, and can
  recommend your work. You need to have good agents both here and
  abroad to help follow through on the delivery of the goods... You
  need a good working relationship with your own bank and possibly
  the others that letters of credit come into as branch transfers
  from foreign offices.
  Don't be hasty for orders. Investigate the manufacturers and
  distributors to be sure the products and sales methods are
  reputable.. Check out the particulars of shipping and
  manufacturers from the foreign country. Each culture works in a
  specific manner... Get to know how to work with those people..
  The import/export business is not for everyone.. But it is a
  personal operation that you can run yourself-- you don't have to
  answer to anybody. The rewards of negotiating in a foreign
  country are excitement, a touch of the exotic and the great
  profit potentials.
  When you make the proper contacts and follow through completely
  with reputable manufacturers, reliable shipping companies, and
  responsible distributors, you have it made.
  If you are ready to put in the time, sell yourself. Start making
  inquiries and contacts. Try it on for size.. Does it feel good?
  Then MAKE IT SUCCEED,
  If you need specialized LEGAL advice or assistance on this
  subject, the services of a professional person are recommended.

I hope this information helps you in your business endeaver.You may copy and print this article. For more information read Reynold Jay's book    How To Think Small Business For Big Profits  and Born To Be Rich for business motivation. (CLICK for more information.)